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Cosby Trial: A Legal Look

The day after the conviction of Mikail Markhasev for the murder and robbery of Ennis Cosby, CBS 'This Morning' Co-Anchor Jane Robelot interviewed CBS News Legal Consultant Laurie Levinson about the evidence, the jury, and the outcome.

Question: Was there one thing, one bit of evidence or one point, that made the jury decide that this man was the killer of Ennis Cosby?

Answer: "Absolutely. It was the evidence that the prosecution started out with, which were the letters that Markhasev wrote in prison in which he said this was a robbery gone bad. The jurors now are pointing to that and saying that was the key evidence."

Question: Now prosecutors are also saying that Bill Cosby's celebrity really had nothing to do with this verdict. Do you agree?

Answer: "Well, I don't know we can say it had nothing to do with it. I think Cosby showing up during closing arguments reminded the jurors what is at stake. Ultimately, I do think the jurors looked at the evidence in the case."

Question: What were the holes in the prosecution's case? Were there any?

Answer: "Definitely. This was not a slam-dunk case for the prosecution. Their eyewitness could not identify Markhasev. They had problems with their other witnesses, who ended up not testifying, instead taking the Fifth Amendment. They didn't have much physical evidence in this case. This was not the type of evidence we've seen in other high-profile cases."

Question: Does that mean that the defense may have a pretty good chance on appeal?

Answer: "Well, the defense's best argument on appeal [will be] that the letters shouldn't have come in and been suppressed by the judge. They'll argue that the publicity impact of the case. But the fact it's a thin case won't necessarily change the court of appeals' mind.

"This was different from the O.J. Simpson case. It was a tougher case for the D.A.'s office, because they didn't have that DNA evidence, such as blood at the scene. Instead, they had one hair in a cap. It was tougher because they didn't have the same amount of evidence, but [they had] the same focus. They had very few witnesses who took the witness stand. They had a good prosecutor. They only had one, and she got the job done."

Question: What won it for them?

Answer: "Markhasev. In his letters and on the tapes. One of the most devastating pieces of evidence that the prosecution used was…a taped conversation. And they said he sounded like a man out of control, a man capable of murdering."

Question: Did the defense ever have a chance?

Answer: "They did. After the first day of the defense, you thought, 'Wow. There may be reasonable doubt in this case.' They used the police officers to show there wa evidence at the scene that was never tied to Markhasev. The defense argued that the drawing looked more like Eli Zakaria than the defendant.

"If they had ended after the first day of the defense, they may have had a better result than they did. But they put on witnesses the second day that offered an alibi, and they exploded on the defense - including the defendant's mother - because it turned out to be false stories that were inconsistent with each other."